The injury bug has bitten the women’s gymnastics team more than once this season. But the team is trying to exterminate that bug.
Jill Kornett participated in all four events despite the fact she was competing for the third time in nine days while recovering from a torn MCL and laboring through an Achilles sprain.
Not only was Kornett the only Owl to complete the all-around, she posted a season-best 36.25 as the team finished third Saturday at a tri-meet held in Penn’s Hutchinson Gymnasium.
Kornett’s gritty showing and the nearly flawless balance beam performances by Winter Sneed and Noelle Moore highlighted the afternoon. Sneed, a sophomore, and Moore, a senior, each earned a 9.75 as the Owls (0-5) achieved their highest score of the season, a 187.900.
First-year coach Aaron Murphy was pleased with the team’s display.
“Our performance [Saturday] was great,” Murphy said. “Our score actually went up again from the past competition and the girls just knuckled up again and put it together.”
Murphy also spoke highly of Kornett, a senior co-captain.”I asked her before the meet [whether] she [was] going to be able to compete in the all-around,” Murphy said. “She looked me right in the face and said, ‘Yes.’ And for the other girls to see that she was hurting but still was competing for this team, it meshes us together as a team. They really look at her as a leader.”
Moore, who also scored team-highs of 9.550 on vault and 9.735 on floor, re-iterated the leadership of Kornett.
“She represents the team in a great way,” Moore said. “It’s an honor to be her teammate, really. She’s in so much pain, but she just pushes through. She’s an inspiration to me.”
Kornett struggled for the words needed to describe what those comments meant to her.
“I’m … it touches my heart that my teammates feel that way about me,” Kornett said, “and that they look at me as a leader. It really does. I’m a fighter and I’ll do whatever it takes for the team.”
She did that Saturday as she fought pain that still hadn’t subsided completely.
“I’m still struggling with my Achilles,”
Kornett said, “so I was a little apprehensive on the floor, but I pulled it through, gave 110 percent as always and did the best I could. But it’s tough. I’m not going to lie. I’m in a lot of pain out there.”
Sneed also acknowledged she noticed Kornett’s pain.
“I know she was hurting today and she was feeling [the pain],” Sneed said, “but she pushed through and her scores remain consistent. She’s holding it down as a great example for us.”
Words like ‘us’ and ‘team’ come up a lot with the members of the women’s gymnastics team. Kornett offered an explanation
that only affirmed her teammates’ comments of her as a leader.
“I don’t care about myself,” Kornett said. “It’s all about Temple gymnastics for me.”
Moore offered another explanation.”This team is like a family to me,” Moore said.
“Without them I don’t know where I would be. I’ve been competing for 15 years and I still get nervous, but having them around really helps.”
Aided by a rather large and vocal contingent of Temple supporters in the stands, and their teammates’ encouragement, the team strung together its best performance of the season. Sneed said the team’s confidence is starting to grow after a rough start to the season.
“It’s good that we started off lower because now we’re building ourselves up,” Sneed said. “We’re really starting to pick it up now.”
Murphy said he isn’t too concerned with the team’s record right now.
“In the beginning of the season it’s not about the records,” Murphy said. “It’s about being able to put routines together. We’re starting to look good and we’re looking to surprise a few teams down the road.”
Kornett said she also sees improvement
and expects the team to make major strides. “I’m actually really proud of my team,” Kornett said. “We’re taking it step-by-step and we’re really going to improve throughout the rest of this year.”
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.